Off the Record
All Mitchell Hamline students are invited to participate in this conversation series. This is your chance to connect with attorneys in your area of interest and ask questions in an informal, small group setting about the work that interests you. Because of the small group nature of these conversations, space will be limited, so watch the Student News Feed and your email for more information about these events and RSVP to attend as soon as possible. Students living outside the Twin Cities Metropolitan area have the option to participate via dial-in.
Lawyers working in all areas of the law and in all positions in business, government and private practice speak with students in small group settings and share the inside scoop on how they made it from law school to their current position, what they enjoy (or don’t) about their work and what they wish they would have known as law students to better prepare them for life after law school.
Senior Corporate Counsel, Best Buy
Friday, September 22, 11–11:55am Room 229
All students are welcome to attend, however, space is limited so reserve your spot now – RSVP by emailing email@example.com. Students living outside the Twin Cities Metropolitan have the option to participate via dial-in.
Vanessa DeCourcy graduated cum laude from Mitchell Hamline in 2010. After passing the bar, she worked as a Contract Attorney for Best Buy until July 2011, when she was hired as an Associate Corporate Counsel. Since then, Vanessa has grown in the transactions practice at Best Buy to become a Senior Corporate Counsel working primarily on global IT and business process outsourcing transactions. She also supports the reverse logistics/ recommerce team and Geek Squad services business and is an active member of the Legal Department’s Pro Bono, Internship, and Contract Template Committees. Outside of the office, Vanessa sits on the Board of the Association of Corporate Counsel Minnesota Chapter and enjoys planning membership events such as the annual Casino Royale Gala, benefitting Children’s Law Center, and the Nonprofit Legal Tune-Up, where volunteer attorneys are assigned to local nonprofits to provide pro bono services.
Vanessa says the three most interesting things about her career that she didn’t anticipate in law school are:
- How holistic a business lawyer’s role in-house can be – e.g., training, presentations, escalations, commercial negotiations, practical guidance
- How difficult it can be to balance the desire/need for planning and preparation (which is so important!) with the need to quickly respond/take action in a fast-paced environment
- How non-hierarchical it can be working in-house especially when interfacing with cross-functional teams and the business
Vice President and Associate General Counsel, Advisor Group, Inc.
Tuesday, September 26, 5–5:55pm in Room 329
All students are welcome to attend, however, space is limited so reserve your spot now – RSVP by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Students living outside the Twin Cities Metropolitan area have the option to participate via dial-in.
Jennifer Relien is Vice President and Associate General Counsel of Advisor Group, Inc. a network of four independent and SEC dually registered retail financial services firms including Woodbury Financial Services, Royal Alliance Associates, SagePoint Financial, and FSC Securities Corporation. Jennifer provides guidance and support for legal matters relating to the network’s broker-dealer and investment advisory business with a particular focus on regulatory matters.
Jennifer’s previous role was Chief Legal Officer of Woodbury Financial Services, Inc. Prior to joining Woodbury, Jennifer served as General Counsel and Secretary at Thrivent Investment Management, Inc. an affiliated broker/dealer and investment advisor of Thrivent Financial. Previously, Jennifer was Vice President and Assistant General Counsel at US Bancorp Piper Jaffray. Jennifer started her career with Fortis Financial Group in 1996.
Jennifer holds a B.A. in political science from the University of Wisconsin at Madison and a Juris Doctor, magna cum laude, from William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, MN. Ms. Relien was a member of FINRA’s District 4 Committee from 2008 to 2012 and is currently serving on FINRA’s Membership Committee. Ms. Relien is also a member of the SIFMA Private Client Legal Committee.
Veterans’ Benefits, Bradley Berkland Hagen & Herbst
Thursday, September 28, 9–9:55am in Room 229
All students are welcome to attend, however, space is limited so reserve your spot now – RSVP by emailing email@example.com. Students living outside the Twin Cities Metropolitan area have the option to participate via dial-in.
Tom Hagen ‘96 has been practicing law in Minnesota since 1997 and currently focuses exclusively on VA disability appeals for his fellow veterans at Bradley, Berkland, Hagen & Herbst, LLC. A 1996 graduate of William Mitchell, he first joined the general practice firm of Patton, Hoversten & Berg, P.A. in Waseca. He served in the Minnesota Army National Guard for over 27 years as a Judge Advocate and retired in 2017 at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. His service includes three overseas deployments, including two tours in Iraq with the 34th “Red Bull” Infantry Division. His award include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (2 awards), Army Commendation Medal (2 awards) and the Iraq Campaign Medal. Tom has also served at all levels of government, including as U.S. Senate staff, as Assistant to the Commissioner at the Minnesota Department of Commerce, and as Mayor of Waseca, Minnesota. He has volunteered as a team member for Veterans Treatment Court of Minnesota’s 5th Judicial District since 2013.
Tom says that the three most interesting things about his career have been:
- A successful and satisfying law career doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game. It’s about relationships and problem solving. In the oath you’ll take as a new Minnesota attorney you’ll swear to “will conduct yourself as an attorney and counselor at law in an upright and courteous manner.” Take that seriously and approach all parties and opposing counsel with respect.
Remember Abraham Lincoln’s advice to “Discourage litigation…As a peacemaker the lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be business enough.”
- With apologies to my UCC Professor Kitzinger — Yes, there is a “pick up the phone rule.” Pick up the phone and call your opposing counsel and try and solve the problem before the emails and letters and responsive motions.
- The most satisfying experience in your maturity as a lawyer to organizational clients is when yougraduate from being asked about a particular course of action, “Can we do this?” to “Should we do this?” It takes a while.
Associate General Counsel, Supply Chain, 3M
Friday, September 29, 11–11:55am in Room 229
All students are welcome to attend, however, space is limited so reserve your spot now – RSVP by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Students living outside the Twin Cities Metropolitan area have the option to participate via dial-in.
Karna Peters is 3M Associate General Counsel, Supply Chain. She leads the 3M St. Paul team providing legal support to 3M Supply Chain, including facility and product Environment, Health and Safety compliance, Trade Compliance, and Sourcing. Karna has expertise on facility and product EHS and compliance, including air and waste, wastewater and stormwater laws and California Prop. 65. She provides legal support for 3M’s Materials Resource Division and Sustainability programs, including customer-facing as well as supply chain regulatory programs such as EU RoHS, conflict minerals, legal harvesting of timber, and 3M’s Pulp and Paper Sourcing Policy. She is a member of 3M’s UN Global Compact Committee, the 3M Legal Affairs Diversity and Inclusion Committee and Women’s Leadership Forum. Karna is the executive sponsor for 3M Legal Affairs’ Professional Education Committee.
Karna received her undergraduate degree summa cum laude from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, is a magna cum laude graduate of the University of Minnesota Law School, and is admitted to the Bar in Minnesota and California. She clerked for a federal 7th Circuit Court of Appeals judge in Illinois, worked in the San Diego, CA office of Latham & Watkins, and owned her own law firm in Minnesota before joining 3M. She has been named a Super Lawyer in Environmental Law. Karna is a past Chair of the Board of Minnesota Continuing Legal Education and currently is on the board of Canvas Health, a nonprofit providing mental health services. She has been inducted in the Concordia College Athletic Hall of Fame as an individual (for golf) and as part of the 1982 AIAW Div. III Women’s Basketball Championship team.
Karna says that the three most interesting things about her career that she didn’t anticipate are:
(1) I am always learning about new and emerging areas of law, new technologies and new systems and processes. (2) Our diversity and inclusion emphasis; combining my passions for golf and women’s leadership. (3) In my in-house role, the opportunity to be a business partner as well as a lawyer.
Chief Intellectual Property Counsel, Ecolab
Monday, October 2, 5–5:55pm in Room 229
James Donald Smith has had a long career in the law and in intellectual property. He clerked for now retired Chief Judge Paul Michel at the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and practiced with Arnold White & Durkee and, later, Dewey Ballantine, serving as the office managing partner of Dewey’s Texas office.
Mr. Smith, a former Assistant Dean of the law school at Emory University in Atlanta, also served as a patent litigator and patent prosecutor, and led in-house intellectual property teams for three multi-national corporations, serving as Lexmark’s Chief IP Counsel, Nokia’s Global Director of Licensing and, as Associate General Counsel and Chief Intellectual Property Counsel of Baxter International.
Most recently, Mr. Smith served as the Chief Administrative Patent Judge at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), where he led the Patent Board and oversaw the Board’s transition from the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board including the creation, issuance, and application of new rules and procedures in accordance with the implementation of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act. Mr. Smith also directed the sweeping increase in the number of Administrative Patent Judges in coordination with the USPTO, opening satellite offices in Denver, Dallas, Detroit, and Silicon Valley, nearly tripling the number of judges at the Board, better enabling it to process the trial and appeal cases received. Currently, Mr. Smith serves as Chief IP Counsel of Ecolab USA, which is headquartered in St. Paul Minnesota.
Mr. Smith says that the most interesting aspects of his career have been:
- The diversity of venues – government, law firms, corporations, judiciary
- The diversity of locations – DC, Houston, Chicago, New York, Helsinki, London, Copenhagen
- The diversity of roles – professor, dean, managing partner, chief judge, patent examiner, lowly associate (my favorite)
About his career, Mr. Smith says the things he least anticipated during law school include:
- How much hard work is required
- How long it takes to learn how to write better
- How much growth can continue during a career
- How people one encounters one will encounter again
- How many lawyers do not respect the law and do not desire to be the best they can be
Program Director, Conflict Resolution Center
Thursday, October 5, 9–9:55am in Room 329
Elise Chambers is the Program Director of the Conflict Resolution Center, an attorney and Qualified Neutral under Rule 114 and an adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota School of Law. Since 1996, Elise has developed, presented and evaluated training curriculum for a variety of audiences and topics. Through her work as a criminal defense lawyer representing adults and juveniles at the Minnesota Law Collective, a nonprofit she founded, Elise trained and mentored certified student attorneys to represent low income criminal defense clients in court. Elise also ran the nonpartisan national Election Protection voters’ rights coalition in Minnesota in collaboration with the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, working closely with a number of statewide coalitions and volunteers of all ages.
Elise is trained in participatory decision making facilitation methods, including the Art of Hosting practices of Appreciative Inquiry, World Café, Pro-Action Café, and Open Space Technology. Elise facilitates change management processes and organization-wide conflict resolution processes for non-profits, higher education institutions and government offices.
Elise also develops and delivers professional development workshops and trainings in mediation, communication skills, brain science, youth mentoring, community leadership, and group facilitation processes. Elise presented at the 2015 national Association for Conflict Resolution conference, the Twin Cities Diversity Roundtable, the 2016 Nevada Dispute Resolution Coalition conference and the 2017 Conflict Resolution Minnesota conference. Elise also provides monthly training sessions at the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits.
Elise is the co-author and presenter of published research regarding youth brain development and the mutual impacts of the juvenile justice system and adolescent mental illness on each other.
Commercial Litigation Attorney and Shareholder, Winthrop & Weinstine
Friday, October 6, 11–11:55am in Room 229
Aimée Dayhoff is a shareholder in Winthrop & Weinstine’s commercial litigation department. Since joining the firm in 2002, Aimée’s practice has been built on the foundation of her deep understanding of her clients’ businesses, which run the gamut from large publicly held corporations, to thoroughbred horse trainers, to small family-owned businesses, to Minnesota wineries. In addition, Aimée’s clients operate in a wide variety of industries which include food and beverage, financial institutions, insurance companies, manufacturing and transportation. Aimée has represented local and national clients in both state and federal court, as well as in arbitrations.
Aimée’s areas of expertise include winery & vineyard legal issues, complex commercial contract and breach of warranty litigation as well as litigating federal and state employment claims, including Title VII, MHRA, non-compete and trade secrets claims. Every year since 2014, Aimée has been recognized as a “Top 50 Woman Attorney in Minnesota” by Super Lawyers and has been honored as a Minnesota Super Lawyer or Rising Star every year since 2005. In addition, Aimée was recognized as a “Top 50 Woman in Business” by Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal in 2013 and was awarded recognition as a “40 Under Forty” honoree in 2011.
Not only is Aimée a leader in the courtroom, but also at the firm and in the community. Aimée represents the firm before the Law Firm Alliance, a global network of law firms, and she actively served for years on the firm’s Diversity Committee, Recruiting Committee and Community Service Committee. Aimée is also a Trustee of the Minnesota Zoo Foundation Board, having twice chaired the Zoo’s largest annual fundraiser, the Beastly Ball. She advocates for women in our community, and served as a Board Member of the National Association of Women Business Owners – Minnesota Chapter, and as Co-Chair of Membership for Women’s United of the Greater Twin Cities United Way. She most recently joined the Executive Board of the Minnesota Grape Growers Association.
Aimée lives in Minnetonka with her husband, two children, and their pug. She is proficient in Portuguese.
Litigation Attorney, League of MN Cities; U.S. Army Judge Advocate
Monday, October 9, 5-5:55pm (Room TBD)
Patrick Arneson is a trial lawyer experienced in civil litigation and criminal prosecution. He has represented the United States Government, national and international corporations, and individuals, and he currently defends cities and municipal entities in a variety of civil litigation. Patrick’s civil trial experience ranges from solo-chairing week-long jury trials to teaming with co-counsel for trials lasting a month or more, from single-plaintiff trials to a class action seeking over $240 million. His criminal trial experience ranges from petty misdemeanors to felonies. Patrick has also prepared appellate briefs and delivered oral arguments on appeal.
Before concentrating on civil litigation, Patrick was a JAG Corps attorney on active duty in the U.S. Army. He tried over 40 cases as a military prosecutor and Special Assistant United States Attorney. Patrick is a veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, having served a combat zone tour in Afghanistan as Command Judge Advocate of a multinational task force.
Patrick was recognized by Minnesota Lawyer as an “Up and Coming Attorney” in 2011, and by Minnesota Law & Politics as a “Rising Star” in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013.
Outside of the office, Patrick is a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve, and head coach of one of the largest youth track and field teams in Minneapolis. He also enjoys volunteering in the Minneapolis Public Schools.
Patrick says that three interesting things about his career include:
- “It is definitely possible to move between different practice areas as an attorney”;
- “Working in different legal positions can make you a more well-rounded attorney”; and
- “There are significant differences between government and private practice jobs, and each have pros and cons.”
Business & Social Enterprises Attorney, Jux Law Firm; Uniform Law Commissioner
Tuesday, October 17, 5–5:55pm in Room 329
More information coming soon!
Maritime Law/White Collar Defense Attorney, Of Counsel, Chestnut Cambronne
Thursday, November 2, 5–5:55pm in Room 229
Brian Toder’s thirty-year trial practice has focused on business litigation, numerous national class actions where he has served as co-lead counsel, federal criminal defense cases highlighted by three consecutive jury trials resulting in acquittals, and maritime law cases where he brings to his practice his experience as a former ship’s master.
Several of his high profile cases have caused significant changes in Minnesota and national law, including Jensen v. Walsh which established the right to punitive damages in cases involving only damage to property; and Capital Records v. Jammie Thomas, the first of more than 25,000 downloading, copyright infringement cases that went to trial and established that simply making copyrighted works available does not constitute an act of infringement.
For his efforts, Brian has been perennially recognized as a Super Lawyer by Thomson Reuters, most years for civil litigation and white collar criminal defense, but more recently he was the only maritime lawyer in the state recognized as a Super Lawyer in that practice area. For his role on the plaintiffs’ federal trial team in the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Litigation, Brian was a co-recipient of the Trial Lawyers for Public Justice’s “1995 Trial Lawyer of the Year Award.” For 20 consecutive years he has been rated AV by Martindale-Hubble, its highest rating.
Active in the community, Brian’s service includes membership on the Board of Directors of the History Theatre in St. Paul where he also served as its vice president. In the Port of Duluth, Minnesota Brian is a member of the Duluth chapter of the Propeller Club of the United States.
A private pilot and skydiver, he is a member of Lawyer-Pilot’s Bar Association and the United States Parachute Association.
Brian says the three most interesting things about his career are:
- “Having put eleven years between college and law school, I discovered the value of being well-versed in something other than law. I was a ship’s master. I focused on admiralty law, just as my law-school friends previously in the performing arts business focused on intellectual property law, and just as those who put no time between college and law school became rich PI lawyers or were content writing brilliant briefs for others.”
- “Having a mentor is the singular key to success. Law schools aren’t very good at teaching you how to practice law, but they are good at turning you into a lawyer. My mentor, one of the most famous lawyers in Minnesota, always introduced me as his lawyer. I made him look good, and he turned me into a lawyer that knows how to practice law.”
- “Don’t feel bad if you’re not hired by a big law firm. Someday you’ll learn that the most valuable currency in the world is time for yourself. Concomitant with great salaries are way too many billable hours that aren’t any fun.”
Off the Record: Career Conversation with David J. Holt ’13
Healthcare and business attorney at Holt Law LLC, patient advocate and entrepreneur.
Monday, September 12th 4:30-5:30pm in the Margaret H. Kelley Conference Room
David is transforming the future of healthcare as both an attorney and an entrepreneur. As a business attorney, David helps business owners get legal and navigate regulations across state and federal healthcare regulations as well as E-Commerce law protecting those who sell products and services online.
From a healthcare standpoint, Holt Law focuses on healthcare for the little guy. The healthcare side of Holt Law spawned into a second venture for David, who became the co-founder and general counsel for miVoyce. MiVoyce is a business that provides an online training solution for individuals to learn how to navigate the expensive and complicated U.S. healthcare system without retaining an attorney.
David earned a Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Minnesota in 2010. After graduation, David focused his interest on healthcare. His law school education was coupled with more than 500 hours of legal aid work at local organizations, and job experience with non-profits, government agencies and a private consulting firm.
Three interesting things about David’s career – that he didn’t anticipate during law school:
- “I learned that we are all entrepreneurs (even if we do not realize it.)”
- “Your work doesn’t have to be done at an office, if you don’t want it to.”
- “About 99% of my legal experience has been acquired outside of the law school classroom.”
Off the Record: Career Conversation with Charlotte A. Tschider ’15
Owner and Principal, Cybersimple Security
Adjunct/Affiliated Professor – Mitchell Hamline Cybersecurity and Privacy Law Program
Wednesday, September 14th 11:00am-12:00pm in the Margaret H. Kelley Conference Room
Charlotte is owner and principal of Cybersimple Security, which provides privacy and security consulting services for small to large businesses. She is also a member of the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) Training Advisory Board, reviewing international professional privacy educational books and training materials.
Charlotte was most recently director of information security management for Carlson Wagonlit Travel (of Carlson Companies) and has led information technology teams and served as a privacy liaison in various industries for 15 years, most notably at Target Corporation leading security incident response, risk management, and risk governance. She earned a J.D. from Hamline University School of Law. Charlotte writes and presents on a variety of topics involving the intersection of law and technology.
One interesting thing about Charlotte’s career – that she didn’t anticipate during law school:
“The amount of overlap between technology, business, and the law. This interplay in particular keeps my job very fresh every day and gives me an opportunity to learn a wide variety of subjects.”
Off the Record: Career Conversation with Jen Middleton ’12
Tuesday, September 20th 8:30am-9:30am in Room 229
Jen Middleton graduated from Hamline University School of Law in 2012. After graduation, she worked as a law clerk to the Honorable Thomas Fitzpatrick in Anoka County for 13 months before joining the Attorney General’s Office. She is currently an Assistant Attorney General and works in the Health Occupations Division where she represents various health licensing boards. Prior to law school, Jen worked in advertising and marketing for six years.
Three interesting things about Jen’s career – that she didn’t anticipate during law school:
- “I’m constantly being challenged by novel topics despite working in one area of law.”
- “It is fulfilling to represent a state agency [with a] primary purpose [of] public protection.”
- “Besides providing the standard attorney duties, I also get to assist in investigations.”
Off the Record: Career Conversation with Loretta Freeman ’11
Intellectual Property – Associate at Merchant & Gould
Thursday, September 22nd 4:30-5:30pm in Room 229
Loretta Freeman spent 11 years as an engineer at 3M before coming to Mitchell. Now she works at Merchant & Gould, a national intellectual property law firm, with an office in Minneapolis. Loretta’s practice focuses on trademark clearance, registration, and enforcement, patent prosecution and preparation of opinions on patentability and validity. A typical work day for Loretta generally involves drafting patent applications and prosecuting patent applications before the United States Patent and Trademark Office. She also conducts patent searches and handles appeals before the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Three interesting things about Loretta’s career – that she didn’t anticipate during law school:
- “I work for a federal agency.”
- “I work closely with foreign associates.”
- “Intellectual property is one of the hottest practice areas in the U.S.”
Off the Record: Career Conversation with Shawn Betts ’96
Criminal Defense, Betts Legal Services, LLC
Saturday, September 24th 11:30am-12:30pm in Room 229
Shawn Betts has been practicing law for 20 years, handling all levels of criminal cases. He is a current member of the Minnesota State Bar, the Minnesota Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Ramsey Co. Bar Association & the Washington Co. Bar Association. His legal experience includes being the Administrator of the Washington County Criminal Defense Panel, a founding member of the Dakota County Defense Panel, as well as serving as an attorney and Board of Directors Member with Criminal Defense Services, Inc. Shawn has also worked as a Prosecutor for the cities of Maplewood and White Bear Lake and been the presenter for several Expungement Clinics and CLE’s.
Three interesting things about Shawn’s career – that he didn’t anticipate during law school:
- “…after doing this all this time, nothing really shocks or surprises me anymore, because just when you think you have seen it all, something stranger or crazier comes along.”
- “Also I never really understood just how different every courthouse, county, judge, prosecutor, etc. is.”
- “And most importantly, you have to be honest and establish trust and relationships with a lot of people to be successful.”
Off the Record: Career Conversation with Mallory Narang ’12
Compliance Analyst (Human Resources), JD/MBA with prior in-house experience
Wednesday, September 28th 11:00am-12:00pm in the Chief Justice Office
Mallory Narang works as a Compliance Analyst with Ceridian HCM, Inc., where she is responsible for creating cross-functional processes that ensure the company’s software complies with employment laws. Prior to this position, she worked in-house for a couple of software companies and spent some time in business development for a local legal recruiting firm. She holds a JD from Mitchell Hamline School of Law and an MBA from the University of Minnesota. She enjoys using her JD/MBA to bridge the language and cultural barriers that exist between lawyers and businesspeople. Mallory and her husband Vivek live in Minneapolis and enjoy non-fiction reading, traveling, and gaming in their spare time.
Three interesting things about Mallory’s career – that she didn’t anticipate during law school:
- “Litigation and transactional law are not the only two career tracks for attorneys. Compliance is a track unto itself and deserves more attention!”
- “It’s not a lawyer’s job to make decisions. It’s a lawyer’s job to advise the people who make the decisions so they can make an informed choice.”
- “‘No’ and ‘can’t’ are words that you should rarely, if ever, use. People pay you to figure out how to get to ‘yes’ and ‘can.’”
Off the Record: Career Conversation with Zach Robins ’08 (Winthrop & Weinstine) & Tom Loonan ’15 (Moss & Barnett)
on MNvest and their efforts to lobby the legislature to legalize equity crowdfunding
Tuesday, October 4th 8:30am-9:30am in Room 229
*This session has been cancelled. We hope to reschedule for a future date.
Zach Robins is a securities attorney in the Corporate & Transactions practice group at Winthrop & Weinstine. He counsels clients in the areas of general corporate, M&A, crowdfunding, private equity raises and debt financings. Zach co-drafted Minnesota’s intrastate investment crowdfunding law, MNvest, and counsels issuers, portal operators, investors, banks, and service providers on the nuances of state and federal crowdfunding laws, amongst other securities issues.
Three interesting things about Zach’s career – that he didn’t anticipate during law school:
- “Relationships you forge now can have huge impacts in the future.”
- “Your path may not be smooth, but if you stay focused you can get there.”
- “When you begin practicing you won’t have all the answers, but if you trust in your training and think on your feet you’ll find the right solutions.”
Tom Loonan is a 2015 graduate of William Mitchell College of Law. While a student at William Mitchell, Tom worked as Campaign Manager for a successful Minnesota State representative campaign. In the Spring of 2015, Tom worked as a student extern with attorneys Zach Robins and Ryan Schildkraut of Winthrop and Weinstine to draft and pass the MNvest legislation.
Tom currently is a member of Moss & Barnett’s creditors’ remedies and bankruptcy team focusing his practice on defending Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) claims. Additionally, he counsels creditors, debt buyers, attorneys, and businesses on compliance with state and federal credit and collection laws.
- “Working in litigation in the Federal Courts, one of the most interesting thing[s] I have found in my short time practicing is the differing interpretation and application of law across multiple jurisdiction[s]. This has emphasized the value of conducting proper research from the appropriate authorities, and the importance of understanding the rules of the court where a matter is pending.”
Off the Record: Career Conversation with Bill Hargis ’75
Vice President of Growth Resource Partners, LLC (commercial real estate, senior care projects), business leader, former Mayor of Woodbury
Thursday, October 6th 4:30-5:30pm in Room 229
Bill Hargis was Woodbury’s Mayor from September 1993, to the end of 2010, and on the City Council since 1992. He did not run for re-election. He now serves as Chair of the Washington County Housing and Redevelopment Authority. Bill has served in several volunteer positions in the local and metropolitan communities as well.
An attorney and CPA by training, Bill currently is self-employed as a real estate investor and real estate broker, with an office in Woodbury. He formerly was the Managing Partner/CEO of Good Neighbor, a health care provider. Prior to founding Good Neighbor, he was a partner in the law firm of Doherty, Rumble & Butler, but no longer has a law practice. In February 2011 Bill became a licensed Minnesota real estate broker and became affiliated with Growth Resource Partners, LLC.
Three interesting things about Bill’s career – that he didn’t anticipate during law school:
- “Importance of relationships-you will meet people again or people they know and how you treated people in a prior transaction or dealing/relationship will impact positively or negatively all your future dealings.”
- “Lots of parallels with business, law, sports, any successful organization-regardless of the field. Long term benefits outweigh any shortcuts… [and a] [p]ositive attitude goes a long way towards success.”
- “You don’t have to know everything.”
Off the Record: Career Conversation with Ellen M. Ahrens ’10
Career law clerk for Judge Rau
Saturday, October 8th 11:30am-12:30pm in Room 229
Ellen M. Ahrens is a 2010 graduate of William Mitchell College of Law, where she served as an executive Editor of the William Mitchell Law Review. After law school, she worked for a Minneapolis law firm representing plaintiffs in antitrust class action litigation. She currently is a career law clerk for Judge Rau, who is a federal magistrate judge. Last year, she taught WRAP in Mitchell Hamline’s Hybrid J.D. Program, and this year she is a tutor in the Lawyering program.
Two interesting things about Ellen’s career – that she didn’t anticipate during law school:
- “Networking works: I have obtained both of my legal jobs through personal contacts (i.e. ‘networking’) that I made while in law school.”
- “There are more non-traditional jobs for lawyers than I ever imagined.”
Off the Record: Career Conversation with Ray French ’12
Business Assistance Specialist, City of Eau Claire Economic Development
Wednesday, October 12th 11:00am-12:00pm in the Chief Justice Office
*This session has been cancelled. We hope to reschedule for a future date.
Ray French received his JD in 2012 from Hamline University School of Law and his Master in Public Administration from Hamline in 2013. After interning at cities in the metro, he worked for over 3 years as a Management Analyst for the City of River Falls. His key project during that time was managing the city’s hydroelectric relicensing process. After working with City staff, elected officials, stakeholders, and consultants to develop a comprehensive river corridor planning process, Ray obtained for the City an unprecedented license extension from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to allow for the community’s river planning. He and his wife have since moved back to their college town to raise their family, where Ray now works in economic development for the City. He is admitted to practice law in both Minnesota (’12) and Wisconsin (’16).
Three interesting things about Ray’s career – that he didn’t anticipate during law school:
- “If you ‘want to make your community better’, you have to take the long view. It requires you to build relationships and it takes a lot of incremental work.”
- “I started out with public sector aspirations but have now developed an interest in business. Not only for my community but for me too.”
- “I don’t enjoy managing people, which is kind of important for an administrator!”
Off the Record: Career Conversation with Ivan Fong
Monday, October 24th 4:30-5:30pm in Room 229
Ivan Fong is Senior Vice President, Legal Affairs and General Counsel of the 3M Company, a $30 billion global, diversified technology company based in St. Paul, Minnesota. Ivan has been named one of “America’s 50 Outstanding General Counsel” by the National Law Journal, and under Ivan’s leadership, 3M’s law department was also recognized by Corporate Counsel as one of the Best Legal Departments of the Year and by the Financial Times as one of the Most Innovative In-House Legal Teams of 2015.
Prior to joining 3M in October 2012, Ivan was nominated by President Obama and unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve as General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, leading a team of over 1,800 lawyers in the Department’s headquarters and seven operating components. Prior to his government service, Ivan was the Chief Legal Officer and Secretary of Cardinal Health, Inc., a $91 billion global healthcare company based in Dublin, Ohio, where he was selected to be one of the “Twenty Most Influential General Counsel” by the National Law Journal. He was previously Senior Vice President and General Counsel of GE Vendor Financial Services and prior to that was GE’s first Chief Privacy Leader and Senior Counsel, Information Technology.
Ivan also previously served as Deputy Associate Attorney General at the U.S. Department of Justice; a partner with the law firm of Covington & Burling in Washington, DC; and an adjunct professor at the Georgetown University Law Center. He began his legal career as a law clerk to Judge Abner J. Mikva of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and Justice Sandra Day O’Connor of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Ivan currently serves on the boards of Equal Justice Works and Minnesota Public Radio. He is also a member of the Council of the American Law Institute, the Minnesota State Bar Association’s Diversity & Inclusion Leadership Council, and the Greater Twin Cities United Way Tocqueville Society Cabinet. Ivan has previously served as chair of the Association of Corporate Counsel, chair of the American Bar Association’s Section of Science & Technology Law, a trustee of Stanford University, and on numerous national and community-based non-profit boards. He has received, among other honors, the Trailblazer Award from the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, the Justice-in-Action Award from the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc., and the Spirit of Excellence Award from the ABA.
Ivan holds a B.C.L. with first class honors from Oxford University, where he was a Fulbright Scholar. He received his J.D. (with distinction) from Stanford Law School, where he was president of the Stanford Law Review, and an S.B. in chemical engineering and an S.M. in chemical engineering practice from MIT. A registered patent attorney, he is admitted to the bars of California (inactive), Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Minnesota, and Ohio.
Three important and interesting things about Ivan’s career – that he didn’t anticipate during law school:
Off the Record: Career Conversation with Phillip Trobaugh ’91
Charter school liaison – attorney at State of Minnesota Department of Education (prior experience as an employment law litigator in private practice and an unemployment law judge)
Thursday, October 27th 4:30-5:30pm in Room 229
Phillip has been an attorney for 25 years, mainly as an employment law litigator in private practice. He then shifted to the public sector and was an unemployment law judge. He now serves the State as the liaison between the Attorney General’s Office and the Department of Education concerning charter school issues. Phillip has spoken and written frequently on employment law issues. Phillip is an honors graduate from Ripon College, and also graduated from Mitchell Hamline (1991), where he served as Production Editor for the Journal of Public Law and Policy.
Three interesting things about Phillip’s career – that he didn’t anticipate during law school:
- “There is no ‘resting’ point in one’s career.”
- “I am always learning something new, or re-learning it.”
- “I’ve never had to apply or use the Rule Against Perpetuities.”
Off the Record: Career Conversation with Lilia Panteleeva ’02
Executive Director of Children’s Law Center of Minnesota
Saturday, October 29th 11:30am-12:30pm in Room 229
Lilia is the executive director of Children’s Law Center of Minnesota (CLC). CLC is a non-profit organization that provides legal representation to children who have been removed from home due to abuse and neglect. CLC utilized the help of volunteer attorneys from the local legal community to represent approximately 700 children per year.
Lilia received her Juris Doctor from William Mitchell College of Law in 2002 and her Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from A. Mateevici College in Chisinau, Moldova. After graduating from law school, Lilia worked at Thomson Reuters for over ten years where prior to leaving she was the head of business operations working on M&A due diligence and business integrations and supervised a multi-disciplinary team of attorneys, strategy consultants, and business analysts. Prior to Thomson Reuters, Lilia clerked at a criminal defense law firm focusing on sex crime defense.
Three interesting things about Lilia’s career – that she didn’t anticipate during law school:
- “Our legal community is very small. After 14 years out of law school, you either know all attorneys in town or you know of them. And the pro bono culture of our legal community is truly impressive.”
- “I never thought I would enjoy finance and accounting. Math was never my strength, and now it’s one of my favorite parts of the job… budgets, allocations, accounts receivable.”
- “Private sector or public sector – managing a business requires the same skillset. Everyone is your customer: donors, sponsors, volunteers. As the executive director of a non-profit, your job doesn’t end when you leave your office. You represent your organization 24/7 regardless of where you are or who you are with.”
Off the Record: Career Conversation with Carl J. Hill ’11
Assistant Vice President – Operations Regulatory Support, U.S. Bank Home Mortgage (bank regulation and compliance experience)
Tuesday, November 1st 8:30am-9:30am in Room 229
Carl is an Assistant Vice President in Operations Regulatory Support at U.S. Bank Home Mortgage. He studied English and Economics at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. Carl originally wanted to be a novelist, before becoming interested in broader topics. He did not have a plan for law school except to further his writing and formal education. During law school, he focused on written and oral communication skills courses for his electives.
After law school, Carl found non-legal work with U.S. Bank. It took some patience; but, he moved into a regulatory compliance analysis role and is now an Assistant Vice President in a team that supports third party mortgage lending. Carl’s team focuses on implementing federal regulations inside the business lines.
Two interesting things about Carl’s career – that he didn’t anticipate during law school:
- “Political changes are important to my industry, but in a[n] indirect way. The industry responds, but our structure is too large and complex for quick changes.”
- “Cynicism should be handled carefully. I’ve met many professionals that are very business oriented but are still driven by consumer service.”
Off the Record: Career Conversation with Kate Johansen ’09
Director of Government Relations at Medica (prior experience as a senior health policy advisor to the Minnesota Department of Human Services and life-long public servant)
Thursday, November 3rd 4:30-5:30pm in Room 229
Kate Johansen is the Director of Government Relations at Medica. Prior to joining Medica, Kate served as a senior health policy advisor to the Minnesota Department of Human Services. Before that, she led health policy at the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, where she represented 2200 businesses and became a leading voice and advocate on ACA implementation issues, particularly the creation of health insurance exchanges. Kate has given dozens of presentations to thousands of people on health care and reform, provided policy analysis to organizations such as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and been quoted in every major Minnesota news publication and The New York Times.
A life-long public servant, Kate has served in every branch of government, two state legislatures, and on Capitol Hill. An attorney by trade, she clerked for the Minnesota Supreme Court after graduating summa cum laude from William Mitchell College of Law in 2009, where she served as Editor-in-Chief of the Law Review. Kate is also a summa cum laude graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College and studied in Stanford Graduate School of Business’s MBA program. She is a 2003 Truman Scholar and in 2013 was named one of Minnesota’s “40 Under 40” business leaders by the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal.
Three lessons Kate has learned over the course of her career:
- “You can use a law degree to do just about anything better.”
- “Character is the coin of the realm in any profession.”
- “Know your value proposition. Then own it.”
Off the Record: Career Conversation with Jenna Gruen ’94
Director of Marketing & Practice Development at Nilan Johnson Lewis
Thursday, November 10th 4:30-5:30pm in Room 229
Jenna Gruen graduated from Hamline University School of Law in 1994. She is currently the Director of Marketing & Practice Development at Nilan Johnson Lewis where she strategically leads all aspects of marketing (including, but not limited to, public relations, branding, advertising, client management, budget development and strategic planning). Jenna was the Director of Practice Management at Gray Plant Mooty where she managed daily operations of 12 practice groups. She has prior experience as a reference attorney, research specialist and contracting officer.
“There’s a massive marketplace in the US for good law firm administrators in the marketing and operations area. A combo of business courses, finance and law would make for a potent degree in this area. When I applied to law school, I couldn’t decide whether to get my MBA or JD. I now have a job that straddles both areas.”
Three interesting things about Jenna’s career – that she didn’t anticipate during law school:
- “The amount of creativity I need to employ on a daily basis.”
- “Being involved in more organizational business strategy than I anticipated.”
- “The need to build professional credibility.”
Off the Record: Career Conversation with Daniel Boen ’11
Family law, creative business law and IP – the Boen Law Office
Saturday, November 12th 11:30am-12:30pm in Room 229
Daniel Boen is the founding partner of the Boen Law Office, offering legal services in family law, creative business law and intellectual property. In addition to his legal practice, Dan is an adjunct instructor at the Institute for Production and Recording in downtown Minneapolis, where he teaches media production students about the practical applications of IP law. He also serves as vice-chair for the Arts & Entertainment section of the Minnesota State Bar Association.
Three interesting things about Dan’s career – that he didn’t anticipate during law school:
- “That practice areas I didn’t ever think I would work in could be so rewarding.”
- “That the legal community would be so supportive and encouraging.”
- “That a new solo practitioner could stare down opposing counsel from a major firm and make them blink.”
Off the Record: Career Conversation with Matthew Streff ’11
Immigration law and civil rights issues – Streff Legal
Monday, November 14th 4:30-5:30pm in Room 229
Matthew Streff is the principal of Streff Legal, PLLC, focusing on immigration law and civil rights issues. Streff Legal serves multi-national foreign professionals and families, with clients ranging from foreign investors, businesses, and entrepreneurs to same-sex spouses and fiancés. Matt also provides civil rights representation for trans issues, discrimination claims, and criminal and deportation defense. Matt serves on the Executive Committee for the Minnesota Lavender Bar Association, and is the current Lavender Bar representative on the Minnesota State Bar Association Council and Assembly. He previously served on the Executive Committee for the Minnesota/Dakotas Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Matt is presently working on the defense team for the I-94 protesters.
Three interesting things about Matt’s career – that he didn’t anticipate during law school:
- “I never thought that I would be able to achieve a nice cross-section of my somewhat disparate career goals, but I am steadily checking off items on my legal-career bucket-list. I never anticipated my path to these opportunities, but I’ve now worked on cases ranging from defending the 1st Amendment rights of the I-94 protesters; to helping foreign entrepreneurs establish U.S. operations; from traveling to Texas to fight incarceration of Asylees fleeing Central-American gang violence; to helping Universities and Fortune 500s sponsor foreign scientists making game-changing advancements in medical research.”
- “I thought that I would always have to practice law the way someone else told me. Instead, I’ve found my own groove and enjoy creative approaches both to the law and to building a business. We are professionals because we exercise judgement in highly unique situations. We don’t always have to follow the rulebook.”
- “In many ways, we are the ones making the rulebooks. It’s not just that practicing attorneys are writing legal guides and incrementally shaping our country’s jurisprudential, political, and social history. With every interaction with other attorneys, we are shaping a profession by promoting mutual respect, collaboration, and high ethical standards in our peers. We are community leaders who can provide informed voices on social issues. Even for those of us who are not particularly activist-oriented, our decisions as attorneys affect lives.”
Election law attorney, professor of political science and law, and frequent political expert for local media.
Tuesday, January 31, 4:30-5:30pm in Room 229
David Schultz is a Hamline University Professor of Political Science and a professor of law at the University of Minnesota. A three-time Fulbright scholar who has taught extensively in Europe, and the winner of the national Leslie A. Whittington award for excellence in public affairs teaching, David is the author of 30 books and 100+ articles on various aspects of American politics, election law, and the media and politics, and he is regularly interviewed and quoted in the local, national, and international media on these subjects including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, the Economist, and National Public Radio. His most recent books are American Politics in the Age of Ignorance: Why Lawmakers Choose Belief Over Research (2013), Election Law and Democratic Theory (2014), and Presidential Swing States: Why Only Ten Matter. (2015). Prior to teaching, Professor Schultz also served as a city director of code enforcement, zoning, and planning in Binghamton, NY, and worked as a housing and economic planner for a community action agency.
Three interesting things about David’s career – that he didn’t anticipate during law school:
- “The amount of time I spend talking to the media.”
- “How much my past experiences have come together to define my career (or how strange skill sets come together).”
- “Why Woody Allen is correct–90% of life is showing up and returning phone calls.”
Attorney for nonprofit and tax exempt organizations and solo practitioner at Robertson Law Office, LLC
Wednesday, February 1, 11am-11:55am in the Chief Justice Office
In 2011, Emily started Robertson Law Office, LLC, through which she helps small to medium-size nonprofits and tax exempt organizations with tax and regulatory compliance, governance, and other areas more unique to the nonprofit sector. Emily has spent much of her career working in and around nonprofit organizations, and this experience has provided her with the ability to understand both the culture within the organization, and the particular demands that nonprofits face on a daily basis. Outside of Emily’s practice, she volunteers for various organizations, including as a board member of the Charities Review Council. She is adjunct faculty for Hamline University in their Masters in Nonprofit Management program, and is a frequent speaker on governance, tax and other issues related to nonprofit organizations. Emily was named a “2014 Up & Coming Attorney” by Minnesota Lawyer.
Emily lives in Minneapolis with her wife Rachel, 11-year old Nokomis, three cats and a bunny. When not advising nonprofits or volunteering for them, Emily attempts to be handy by learning how to fix things in their 1910 home, rides her Triumph Bonneville as much as possible, eats delicious food, and gets lost in a good book. In 2013, Emily co-starred and co-produced a show for the 2013 Minnesota Fringe Festival: “…Kill All The Lawyers,” which made a smashing reappearance at the 2015 Charm City Fringe in Baltimore, MD.
Three interesting things about Emily’s career – that she didn’t anticipate during law school:
- “I have a very specialized practice where I only represent nonprofit organizations, and even further limit my practice to the issues that are more unique to the nonprofit sector (mostly tax, corporate governance, and other administrative/regulatory issues).”
- “I get around 30-40% of my business from other attorneys and, as a result, spend a lot of time networking with other attorneys for marketing purposes. (The amount of networking/marketing that I have done was in itself a bit of a surprise.)”
- “I started my practice as a solo straight out of law school and am now in my 6th year of practice/running my own firm.”
Complex commercial litigator at Larson • King, LLP
Monday, February 6, 4:30-5:30pm in Room 229
Peter J. Gleekel is a complex commercial litigator with more than 30 years of jury and bench trial experience in federal and state courts throughout the nation. Peter specializes in an aggressive, efficient, agile and effective practice with particular expertise in corporate ownership and governance disputes and intellectual property litigation. As lead counsel and strategist for international, national and local clients, Peter has acquired in-depth experience navigating all areas of IP law, including complex trade secrets, trademark dilution, copyright, trade dress, patent design, unfair competition, computer fraud and non-compete claims.
In more than three decades trying and arbitrating cases, Peter believes he has developed a unique ability to understand both the big picture issues and the arcane minutiae that define and drive a case; his experience crosses a wide spectrum of industry, from wine manufacturing to hair care production, from construction to consumer electronics, from casualty insurance to customer loyalty corporate incentive. His clients–high-profile multinationals as well as mid-size corporations and smaller family-held businesses–benefit from his business acumen, his high energy, his passion for his client’s cause, his negotiating skills, and his insistence on personal stewardship of each case he handles.
The three most interesting things about Peter’s career that he didn’t know about or anticipate during law school:
- “To be successful in my practice it has never been enough to know and understand the law. I believe it has been key to know and understand my clients’ business and the industries in which they conduct business.”
- “I came to learn that being a good lawyer is not enough, at least not in private practice—you have to make rain.”
- “Virtually every day is an intellectual challenge.”
Statewide Senior Judge
Thursday, February 9, 4:30-5:30pm in Room 229
Senior Judge Rosanne Nathanson ’80 grew up in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1968 with a major in Humanities. She then moved to Boston, where she worked as a research assistant (college graduate who could type) in a medical research project. In 1971, she moved to Chicago to work as an administrative assistant in the Big Ten Conference office. She then enrolled at Hamline School of Law in the fall of 1977 and graduated in 1980. She began practicing in a 3-lawyer office, then moved to Pepin, Dayton, Herman and Graham in 1987, and then to Leonard Street and Deinard when those two firms merged in 1988. Judge Nathanson practiced primarily family law.
Judge Nathanson was appointed by Governor Jesse Ventura in November of 2001 and sworn in on March 1, 2002, to serve as a Minnesota District Court Judge for Ramsey County District Court. She was re-elected to the bench in 2004 and 2010, presiding in Family Court, Juvenile Court and adult criminal courts, and retired on May 31, 2016. She was then appointed and assigned to serve statewide as Senior Judge from June 6, 2016, to June 30, 2017. For more information on Judge Nathanson, check out her bio on the state court website.
Three interesting things about her career that Judge Nathanson did not anticipate in law school are:
- “The joy (really) of seeing the rule of law work to the substantial benefit of the community”
- “The opportunity to observe grace, pain, desperation, the range of human emotion”
- “Profound appreciation and respect for peace officers”
Business & Operations Manager for Millimeter Creative; ADR professional; survived law school while parenting
Saturday, February 11, 11:45am-12:45pm in Room 229
Cristina Gillette, a 2002 graduate of William Mitchell College of Law, is currently the Business & Operations Manager for Millimeter Creative based in Cincinnati, Ohio. Cristina also currently serves on the Minnesota State Bar Association’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Section Council, as well as the Board of Directors for the Walk-In Counseling Center in Minneapolis. Previously, Cristina owned Gillette Mediation & Consulting providing mediation, neutral evaluation, and facilitative processes. In addition to running a business, Cristina volunteered as a community mediator and facilitator at the Dakota County Jail’s conflict resolution course for inmates. Cristina was also honored to serve as a member of the ISD 197 School District Board of Directors and Chair of the East Metro Integration School District.
Three interesting things about Cristina’s career that she didn’t anticipate in law school:
- “Variety — from government policy work to teaching conflict resolution skills to at risk teens to running the business operations of a corporation.”
- “Unexpected experiences & opportunities — serving as an elected official, international work-related travel, meeting really interesting people!”
- “Life balance and flexibility in scheduling — I love being able to use my mind, skills and follow my passions (not that it is easy, but it can be done!).”
Dakota County Attorney
Monday, February 13, 4-5pm in Room 229
James C. Backstrom has been the County Attorney in Dakota County, Minnesota, since 1987. He previously served as an Assistant Dakota County Attorney for nine years. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Minnesota County Attorneys Association and has served as President of this organization on two occasions. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the National District Attorneys Association (NDAA) and co-chaired the Juvenile Justice Committee of NDAA for over a decade.
Mr. Backstrom oversees an office of 38 attorneys with a budget in excess of $8 million. In addition to his administrative duties, he has personally prosecuted a number of major criminal cases and is actively involved in Dakota County’s Adult Drug Court, which he helped establish. In 1998, he successfully argued a case before the United States Supreme Court. He has also established several innovative programs within his office dealing with crime prevention, juvenile crime and victim services.
Mr. Backstrom has been active in securing passage of numerous items of legislation aimed at improving the criminal justice system in Minnesota. He has been a frequent presenter at state and national legal education forums and has authored numerous articles and training materials.
Mr. Backstrom was selected by Minnesota Lawyer Magazine as one of the Attorneys of the Year for 2002 and received the 2006 Johnson Distinguished Service Award, which is the highest honor given by the Minnesota County Attorneys Association. He was honored by the National Child Protection Training Center in 2011 for his work with child abuse victims.
The three most interesting things about Mr. Backstrom’s career that he didn’t anticipate in law school are:
- “Being an elected official with significant authority in our state’s criminal justice system;”
- “Having the ability to oversee the work of 41 talented attorneys and 40 plus support staff who work for me;”
- “Having the chance to try and present first degree murder cases to a jury/grand jury;” as well as “the opportunity I had to argue a case before the United States Supreme Court. I didn’t anticipate doing any of these things while in law school.”
Off the Record: Career Conversation with Heather Gilbert ’12
Plaintiffs’ Civil Rights attorney, business owner and employer – Gilbert Law PLLC
Thursday, February 16, 8:30-9:30am in Room 229
Heather Gilbert is a Plaintiffs’ Civil Rights attorney, business owner and employer. She is the President of Gilbert Law PLLC, a 3-attorney law firm near St. Paul, MN that handles cases on behalf of protected classes, primarily people that are deaf, hard of hearing or deafblind. Heather is the only attorney in MN that is also a court-certified sign language interpreter, and owns one of the few firms in the 7-state region (if not the only) that is a private firm specializing in legal services for the deaf community. Her caseload consists of clients from all over the country on issues related to the ADA and human rights laws. She is a second-career attorney, and opened her law practice immediately after graduation in 2012. She was nominated to the Super Lawyers Rising Stars three years in a row (2014-2016) and is an adjunct law professor at Mitchell Hamline teaching Transactions and Settlements.
On a personal note, she worked her way through school as an evening student with one child at home, had one child during law school with her also second-career law-student husband, and had their youngest child in her second year as a solo attorney. She is a strong believer that you can be a law firm business owner and still manage a young family.
Three things about Heather’s career – that she didn’t anticipate during law school:
- “It’s okay if you aren’t a jack of all trades and if every aspect of lawyering isn’t a good fit for you. That’s why we have teams. Some lawyers are really good at research and writing. Others are really good at oral arguments, negotiation and client counseling. Some are rain-makers, some aren’t. Some love to network, some don’t. There is a place for all of us at the firm.”
- “I didn’t know that I would have to do so much letter writing. I write 5-10 letters per week, and sometimes more.”
- “I didn’t know that being a solo (now small firm attorney) would require so many skills in marketing, business operations and technology.”
Litigator at Greene Espel PLLP handling complex business, employment, and product liability actions
Thursday, February 23, 4:30-5:30pm in Room 229
Cliff Greene is one of Minnesota’s preeminent trial advocates. He consistently earns this recognition from leading legal publications—including Best Lawyers in America, Chambers, and Benchmark Litigation—as well as his peers. Minnesota Super Lawyers profiled his achievements in the 2014 cover story, “There’s no I in Greene.”
Cliff’s practice is as diverse as his accolades. He represents clients in a broad array of complex business, employment, and product liability actions. He also regularly defends government agencies and officials in constitutional lawsuits involving high-profile claims and significant precedent. While Cliff represents a wide-array of clients, he brings to each case his unique talents as a storyteller—clients universally praise his ability to distill their experiences and share their best case with the factfinder.
Cliff maintains a special focus on federal practice and procedure. He has been appointed by three different chief judges of the District of Minnesota to chair the Local Rules Advisory Committee. In 2016, the Chief Judge appointed Cliff to co-chair the federal magistrate Merit Selection Panel. Cliff has also taught federal jurisdiction to law students as the Distinguished Practitioner in Residence at William Mitchell College of Law. In 2016, Cliff was appointed to the Mitchell Hamline School of Law Board of Trustees. Cliff shared his optimistic views and outlook on the Mitchell Hamline combination in a March 2015 Commentary piece in the Star Tribune, “Mitchell, Hamline law merger is a win-win“.
Active in civic affairs as well as the legal community, Cliff received the 2013 Sidney Barrows Lifetime Commitment Award from the Minnesota Cardozo Society, given annually to an attorney or judge who exemplifies excellence in his/her practice, community service, and lifelong learning.
Three interesting things about Cliff’s career that he didn’t anticipate during law school are:
- We challenged conventional wisdom about the structure and culture of law firms by starting Greene Espel in 1993…we’re celebrating our 25 anniversary next year. For example, the newest lawyer votes on the compensation of the most senior, as well as vice versa; there is no managing partner or management committee, etc.
- We also defied convention wisdom that
- You must practice in NYC, DC or Chicago to handle “bet the company” cases for selective clients
- Size correlates to quality: we’re still a boutique firm doing work that typical goes to firms ten times our size
- We approach the legal community with the mantra: there are no competitors, only colleagues….an approach that can and should be started in law school.
Saturday, February 25, 11:45am-12:45pm in Room 229
Priyanka Premo is currently a Robins Kaplan Fellow/Staff Attorney at the Legal Rights Center, a community-driven nonprofit law firm specializing in adult and juvenile criminal defense, restorative justice practices, and advocacy. The Legal Rights Center runs two programs: Community Defense Program and Youth: Education, Advocacy & Restorative Services. While each program has distinct goals and methods, collectively they point to the overall vision of improving the experience of the justice system for communities of color, if not proactively solving problems that prevent involvement in the justice system in the first place. Priyanka represents adults in the LRC’s Community Defense Program and helps advise LRC clients of immigration consequences that may arise as a result of a particular conviction or plea in criminal proceedings.
Prior to joining LRC, Priyanka was a staff attorney with Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid’s Immigration Law Project, representing immigrants in a wide range of matters, including deportation defense. Priyanka is a 2012 graduate of the University of Minnesota Law School.
Three Most Interesting Things About Priyanka’s Career:
- “First, that I have the ability as an attorney to make a direct and significant impact on my clients’ lives, both in my work as an immigration attorney and a criminal defense attorney.”
- “Second, and this runs counter to the first, is that there are substantial limits and hurdles to my ability to get clients the justice or remedy they are seeking.”
- “Third, I never wanted to practice criminal law and somehow I ended up as a criminal defense attorney.”
Vice President and Chief Intellectual Property Counsel at 3M
Monday, February 27, 4:30-5:30pm in Room 229
Kevin Rhodes is a Vice President and the Chief Intellectual Property Counsel of 3M Company, and the President and Chief Intellectual Property Counsel of 3M Innovative Properties Company in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he is responsible for managing the global intellectual property assets of 3M Company and its worldwide affiliates.
Mr. Rhodes currently serves as the President of the Intellectual Property Owner’s Association. He also is a member of the Board of Directors of the Intellectual Property Owner’s Association Education Foundation and the Executive Committee of the Association of Corporate Patent Counsel. He is a past member of the Board of Directors of the American Intellectual Property Law Association.
Mr. Rhodes serves on the Steering Committee of the Coalition for 21st Century Patent Reform and he has testified before Congress and administrative agencies, and has spoken widely, on issues of intellectual property law and policy.
Prior to joining 3M in 2001, Mr. Rhodes was a partner at Kirkland & Ellis in Chicago, where he specialized in intellectual property litigation.
Mr. Rhodes received his J.D., magna cum laude, from Northwestern University. He is a registered patent attorney, with an undergraduate degree from Grinnell College.
Transactional Attorney and Shareholder at Fafinski Mark & Johnson
Wednesday, March 15, 11am – 11:55am in the Chief Justice Office
Heidi A. Carpenter ’98 is a commercial attorney focusing her practice on providing counsel to investors, start-up companies, and closely held businesses of all sizes with business, corporate, transactional and employment law matters. Heidi has over 16 years of experience providing general counsel assistance to companies and their owners.
In the area of mergers and acquisitions, Heidi is a formidable negotiator, having negotiated mergers, acquisitions and other multi-million dollar deals, with her largest transaction to date valued in excess of $215 million. Heidi represents bidders, targets, financial advisors and bankers in structuring, negotiating and closing mergers, acquisitions, recapitalizations, leverage buyouts and other restructurings.
In the area of employment law, Heidi assists employers in the handling of all areas of employment and HR matters, with an eye toward preventing potential litigation. Heidi has experience providing HR professionals and business owners with personnel policies and strategies related to discrimination, harassment, non-compete, trademark and intellectual property protection, employee benefits, employment and contractor agreements, hiring and firing procedures, and employment law compliance. An experienced and fine-tuned drafter, she is particularly adept in drafting compensation plans and agreements, employment policies and non-qualified plans.
Heidi has repeatedly been recognized by her peers as one of Minnesota’s “Rising Stars” in the legal profession and has been named a “Super Lawyer” since 2014 – an honor given to only the top lawyers in Minnesota. At home, Heidi and her husband are busy raising three tween daughters who keep them laughing and attending softball games, tennis matches, riding lessons, and musicals. In her remaining free time, Heidi enjoys reading, fundraising for her children’s school, cheering for Wisconsin sports teams, and catching up with friends at home.
Three most interesting things about Heidi’s career:
- You Learn A lot About Business. As a business and transactional lawyer, you need to understand business language and culture that aren’t necessarily legal in nature. You learn the basics like what EBITDA means, how to read a balance sheet, and how the company is structured. Additionally, you really need to understand the specific industry your client is in, what their previous struggles have been, and what their goals are in any transaction. If I am representing a “widget” manufacturer, I am a much better legal advisor if I understand how their widgets are made, sold, and marketed. I also have a strategic advantage if I have a deeper understanding of their financial performance, history of hurdles, and overall market. As a result of my work, I get exposed to a lot of different industries, management styles, and business strategies.
- You Are Constantly Using and Improving Your “People” Skills. Not only do your clients need to be able to rely on you and trust your skill set, they actually need to like you. The practice of law is a competitive business and good clients are continually solicited by other lawyers and firms. As a result, even if you are the best attorney in the city, if the client doesn’t like you personally, it’s unlikely you will keep that client long-term. The likeability factor also helps when negotiating with opposing counsel and their clients. I’ve had opposing clients hire me after deals because they related to my negotiation style. In other instances, you want accountants, brokers, and other referral sources to recommend you; therefore, being a “likeable” person helps you get referrals. Finally, within any law firm, you will go further if partners and other associates enjoy working with you or being a part of your team. Unfortunately, based on my memory of law school, the structure not only places little value on “people skills” but actually encourages anti-social behavior in some cases.
- Creativity is Not Only Encouraged, It is Required. As a business attorney, my clients call me with problems they need to solve or with deals they need to negotiate where multiple parties have opposing interests. In order to solve the client’s issue or to find mutually beneficial terms, I have to be able to come up with creative options for the parties to consider. The ability to formulate a strategy or solution that addresses all parties’ concerns or needs is invaluable. It increases the likelihood of you resolving the problem outside of litigation or closing the deal, and it provides significant value to your client.
Assistant Federal Defender at Federal Public Defender
Thursday, March 16, 4:30pm-5:30pm in Room 229
James Becker ’07 received his Juris Doctor from William Mitchell College of Law (2007) and his B.A. from Wesleyan University (1997). He served as a Fellowship Attorney for the Federal Defenders for the Eastern District of Eastern Washington from 2008-2010, and has served as an Assistant Federal Defender, District of Minnesota from 2012-present.
The three most interesting things about James’ career that he didn’t anticipate in law school are:
1. “We are rarely the person we are on our worst days.”
2. “Lawyers wear many hats with respect to their clients; it is important to keep in mind at all times those various roles.”
3. “One key to effective advocacy is to find an argument that you believe in; if you don’t believe your own argument, why should a jury?”
Associate Counsel at HealthPartners
Monday, March 20, 4:30pm-5:30pm in Room 229
Rob Tungseth ’13 graduated Concordia College in 2010 with a finance-focused, economics degree. Upon graduation, he enrolled at Hamline Law to pursue his J.D. While in law school, Rob focused on healthcare law and compliance, and he graduated from Hamline Law School’s Health Law Institute, which gave him the opportunity to clerk in the Law Department of his current employer – HealthPartners. Prior to HealthPartners, Rob worked at the Health Care Compliance Association, Prime Therapeutics and UnitedHealth Group.
Rob says that the three most interesting things about his career are:
- “While I’ve primarily focused on healthcare throughout my career, I never considered it a career path until taking a course in law school.”
- “I believe the skills and knowledge I gained from other industries/jobs have made me a more complete lawyer.”
- “Two people that want to work with each other can create so much more than 1 person working twice as hard.”
Business and Risk Consultant at Marsh & McLennan Agency
Friday, March 24, 1pm-1:55pm in Room 229
Ryan graduated from William Mitchell College of Law in 2011 and clerked for a year on the Minnesota Court of Appeals with Judge Kevin Ross. After his clerkship ended, Ryan practiced at Meagher & Geer for approximately a year before joining the firm of Peterson Habicht (formerly Halleland Habicht) as a business litigator. Over time, his practice shifted to include both litigation and transactional work. In the spring of 2016, Ryan left his legal practice and joined Marsh & McLennan Agency, a commercial insurance and employee benefits broker.
In Ryan’s role as a business insurance and risk consultant, he doesn’t actively practice law anymore, but instead uses his background as an attorney to identify risks and develop strategies to help mitigate and control them through the use of insurance and other resources. Overall, Ryan helps his clients save money, operate more efficiently and safely, increase profits and focus on running their companies instead of dealing with insurance and risk issues.
The three most interesting things about Ryan’s career are:
- Ryan ended up in an industry and role that he never envisioned for himself, yet he loves his job.
- The crucible of law school creates a sort of “survivalist” mentality that can be difficult to shake after you start practicing law.
- Ryan learned how to leverage himself and sell his skills, even if he wasn’t a “typical” job applicant. At Meagher & Geer, Ryan practiced as a litigation-focused medical malpractice defense attorney, which he leveraged into a business litigation position at Peterson Habicht. Ryan then gained experience on the transactional side of the firm, in addition to his work as a litigator, which allowed him to serve a larger base of clients. When Ryan left Peterson Habicht for a sales-oriented position at Marsh & McLennan, he had to convince the hiring team at the agency that he could sell, even though he didn’t have a typical sales background.
Shareholder at Littler, an Employment and Labor Law Firm
Cancelled — Look for More Info in Fall 2017
George R. Wood ’85 focuses on discrimination and other employment litigation and client counseling. Practicing regionally in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa, he frequently handles matters involving:
- The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act
- The Family and Medical Leave Act
- Compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act
- Unfair competition
- Title VII
Additionally, George regularly counsels clients on such issues as:
- Employment terminations
- Disciplinary actions
- Discrimination and harassment complaints and investigations
- Leaves of absence
- Wage and hour issues
- All other facets of personnel management
George also serves as Littler Mendelson’s conflicts counsel.
Prior to working at Littler, George was a shareholder at another regional law firm. He began his career as a law clerk to the Honorable Douglas K. Amdahl, Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court. In law school, he was editor of the William Mitchell Law Review.
Three interesting things that George did not anticipate in law school:
- “What you think in Law School will be the focus of your practice is not accurate. It will change over time.”
- Customer”\client service is of upmost importance. Being smart is not enough.”
- “To succeed in the law firm setting, you need clients, which means you need to develop and foster good friendships, because these folks become your clients.”
General Counsel at Sun Country Airlines
Thursday, April 6, 4:30pm-5:30pm in Room 229
Because his fighter-pilot father exposed him early and often to aviation fuel, Eric Levenhagen’s brain has been permanently wired to love aviation and the aviation community. Mr. Levenhagen ’09 lives that out today by serving as General Counsel for Sun Country Airlines, having recently returned to Minnesota after helping to finalize Signature Flight Support’s acquisition of Landmark Aviation, where he served as Assistant General Counsel. Before that, he was a lawyer in in private practice in Houston, Texas, doing corporate, finance, and real estate transactions, with an emphasis on M&A and aviation. He has also served as Chair of the Aviation Section of the State Bar of Texas. Prior to moving to Texas, and while attending law school at Hamline University School of Law, Mr. Levenhagen worked in several finance and marketing roles, including pricing for Northwest Airlines.
Mr. Levenhagen’s three most interesting observations in his career are:
- “As a second career, evening student, I found private practice to be very hard and different from what I was expecting. Starting over is very humbling. I thought I had a better grasp than I did.”
- “Pursuing what you love (in my case, aviation) is not easy, clean, or glamorous. It’s not at all like what the success books tell you or the TV and movies portray. It’s a lot of late nights, overnights, personal financial investment¸ and stress. It’s usually unclear whether all the effort will ever lead to anything. You will be embarrassed regularly and there will be a hundred ‘no’s’ along the way. In the end, however, it’s worth it.”
- “I had an old lawyer tell me, when I was a struggling new lawyer, that it’s really an incredible thing when a lawyer hits his or her stride. I didn’t believe that until I lived it. When you finally have some experience and start to see the big picture, the role really does become a lot of fun. It just takes a lot of time – and there is no way to get around that.”
Off the Record: Career Conversation with Jennifer Grant
Risk Manager, Liability – Insurance & Risk Management at Regis Corporation
Thursday, April 13, 8:30-9:30am in Room 229
Jennifer Grant graduated from Spelman College in 2008 and Pepperdine University School of Law in 2011. During her first year of law school, she began interning with Gareeb Law Group, a corporate defense firm in Woodland Hills, CA. She remained at Gareeb Law Group throughout law school and after passing the California bar exam, was hired on as an attorney. While originally of the belief that she was to become the greatest trial attorney west of the Mississippi, she soon realized (4 years later), that she wanted to pursue other avenues related to law, but not necessarily an attorney position. After diligent research (late night Google searches) she discovered the world of Risk Management and Insurance and learned that she could use her JD and legal experience to excel in this field. Today, Jennifer is the Risk Manager, Liability Program with Regis Corporation and the Membership Committee Chair and Board Member of the Risk Management Society, MN Chapter.
Jennifer says that the three most interesting things about her career that she didn’t anticipate during law school are:
- “What I didn’t realize while in law school, but quickly learned when I entered the work force was that law school completely transforms the way you process information in comparison to someone who did not attend law school.”
- “The most interesting thing about my job is no day is the same, and just when I think I’ve seen it all, something new and unexpected happens.”
- “A JD can open more doors in your career than you ever thought possible.”
Real Estate Associate at Dorsey & Whitney LLP
Wednesday, April 19, 11-11:55am in the Chief Justice Office
Three interesting things about Alex’s career path are:
- Alex had professional work experience prior to law school in a field related to his chosen law practice.
- Alex decided to focus on a particular area of practice during law school (real estate) and generally only took classes, and looked for jobs, internships and pro bono activities, related to that area of practice. He also participated in real estate industry groups throughout law school (not necessarily legal industry groups).
- Alex learned the value of participating in law review and moot courts. Highly recommended.
Franchise Attorney and Principal, Gray Plant Mooty
Monday, August 28, 5–5:55pm in Room 229
Mike Gray represents companies and individuals in trial, arbitration, and other civil proceedings throughout the United States. As a member of Gray Plant Mooty’s Franchise and Distribution practice group, Mike is lead litigation counsel for several national franchise companies and has litigated, arbitrated, and mediated complex commercial cases in over 37 states involving all aspects of the franchise relationship with a particular expertise in noncompete enforcement.
Mike is experienced in successfully guiding clients through the dispute resolution process, whether through trial, appeal, arbitration, mediation, or negotiation. For individuals and business clients, Mike provides counsel on a wide range of issues including employment law, contract disputes, protection and exploitation of intellectual property, trade secret protection, licensing, product liability, and distributor relations.
Mike has written and presented materials on franchise, litigation, and intellectual property topics for the American Bar Association, the International Franchise Association, St. Thomas University, the Minnesota Institute of Legal Education, the Business Law Institute, the Practising Law Institute, and the American Intellectual Property Law Association. In recognition of his industry-leading expertise in the area of franchise law, Mike was elected to the Governing Committee of the American Bar Association’s Forum on Franchising, where he also serves as finance officer.
Mike says that three things he did not anticipate during law school are:
- “Not all people who graduate from law school are good lawyers.”
- “Writing skills and ability will elevate you, or limit you, regardless of what area you practice.”
- “Developing an expertise is a double edged sword.”
Solo Criminal Defense Attorney, Ascheman Law
Tuesday, August 29, 9–9:55am in Room 229
Landon Ascheman focuses primarily on Criminal Defense, representing individuals prosecuted by the State and Federal Government. He spends much of his free time mentoring law students and volunteering in the courts to serve those in need. Landon graduated from Minnesota State University of Moorhead in 2006, with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology. He received his Juris Doctor from William Mitchell College of Law in May 2009.
Before founding Ascheman Law, Landon was a certified student attorney in the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office. He worked with many divisions, including Adult Violent Crimes; Juvenile; Drug and Property; and the Domestic Abuse Service Center. While working for Hennepin County, Landon appeared on behalf of the state in hundreds of cases. He has worked extensively in the areas of DWI and Domestic Assault. Landon was also a certified student attorney for the Kandiyohi County Attorney’s Office, and the St. Louis Park City Attorney.
Prior to entering the legal world, Landon was an Intelligence Specialist for the U.S. Navy and the Minnesota Army National Guard. He is a veteran of the war in Afghanistan.
In his free time, Landon is an avid swimmer, he has completed the 2.1-mile Point to LaPointe Swim (WI), 2013 Extreme North Dakota Watersports Endurance Test or END-WET marathon swim, a 27 mile swim, the Twin Cities Open Water Half Marathon, which includes Lake Harriet 1 & 2 mile (MN), and Lake Minnetonka 5 & 10 mile. He has also completed the 2014 END-WET, a 36-mile (57.9 km) swim, which is the longest continuance swim in North America. He is also the first Minnesotan, and one of the first 100 in the world, to complete the Ice Mile under the International Ice Swimming Association.
Landon says that the most interesting things about his career have been:
- Having “the chance to be the first attorney to defend a client at trial from criminal charges under 609.2241, the cases were appealed to the Minnesota Supreme Court and we won.”
- “All of the extra work done with the Bar Associations, volunteer programs, networking events, and figuring out what fits in well with who I am and the services I provide to the community.”
- “Meeting clients and realizing how difficult things are and the sense of hopelessness, then being able to explain the process, and walk them through the system and finish with clients that know that the worst is behind them.
“I took a lot of clinics, externships, and real world courses. They helped a lot. I still had to figure out how to advertise, set up the LLC and handle the taxes, but I actually felt better equipped to handle the actual legal practice thanks to the work I put in during law school.”
Assistant County Administrator and Clerk of the Board, Chisago County
Thursday, August 31, 9–9:55am in Room 229
Chase Burnham is the Assistant County Administrator in Chisago County (approximately 30 minutes north of St. Paul). He has held the position since 2012, and has worked for Chisago County since 2010. Chase has a diverse professional background, having worked for the University of Minnesota Athletic Department, Thomson Reuters, and then holding two different roles with Chisago County, working in the County Attorney’s Office prior to Administration. In each of his positions, Chase has used his J.D. while working in a non-traditional attorney role.
Chase obtained his B.A. in History and Political Science, with a Minor in Russian, from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, and his Juris Doctor and Business Law Certificate from Hamline University School of Law. In the same year he obtained his Juris Doctor from Hamline, Chase also obtained his M.Ed. in Kinesiology – Sports Management from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities.
Chase says that three of the most interest things about his career have been:
- “Although I am not a practicing attorney, I read statutes every work day.”
- “I deal with a very wide variety of people and problems, some small and some large.”
- “Law school absolutely changed the way I think about everything.”
Assistant Vice President and Benefits Manager, U.S. Bank
Thursday, September 7, 5–5:55pm in Room 229
Nicholas Benham ’14 received his Bachelor of Arts in Music Performance from the University of St. Thomas, then studied computer science before enrolling in Mitchell Hamline’s part-time program. Prior to and during his time in law school, he worked in employee benefits administration, handling FSA claims, enrollment and eligibility administration and ERISA appeals. Though he became fascinated with trademark and copyright law while in school, he remained in the employee benefits field after his admission to the bar.
Nicholas has been with U.S. Bank for eight years and currently manages a team of seven people responsible for administering all of the company’s health and welfare plans. He lives with his girlfriend and their child (20-month-old Iggy). Together they play music, brew beer and volunteer with the local chapter of the Lions Club International.
Nicholas says that three interesting things about his career that he didn’t anticipate while in law school include:
- “Networking – I never had time for it while working full-time and going to school. Now, it’s a part of everything I do: building and maintaining relationships with our vendor contacts, meeting people from all areas of the bank, working with corporate and outside counsel on potential litigation and document drafting.”
- “Learning to communicate with people at all levels in the company from all walks of life – this was a bit of a rude awakening after speaking mostly with law students and lawyers for four years. Not everybody has the training to unpack complicated matters like attorneys, so it can be in turn frustrating and rewarding to walk people through identifying the issues, applying the rules, and reaching a fair conclusion.”
- “The stories—my favorite part of law school was always learning the facts of the cases that led to the rulings. Working in health and welfare, we hear real stories from our employees every day that range from the hilarious to the heartbreaking to the infuriating.”
Senior Human Resources Director, Target
Friday, September 8, 11-11:55am in Room 229
Following high school, Sam Jackson ‘06 spent two years volunteering in Ukraine performing humanitarian work before attending Brigham Young University, where he received his degree in International Studies. He then partnered to start an asphalt company from the ground up, wearing numerous hats for a few years to get the company established, capital purchased, and strategy outlined. His dynamic career continued when he went to work for venture capitalists, performing financial analysis to turn around a restaurant, and then overseeing the design, construction and maintenance of a hospital and large business complex.
Sam attended Hamline University School of Law and spent time working as a law clerk in the areas of employment, corporate and white-collar criminal law. Immediately following graduation, Sam joined Target, performing real estate, supply chain, vendor management and Human Resources functions across the organization. Sam lived in India for two years as the Chief Human Resource Officer for Target’s second headquarters.
Currently, Sam provides HR support for the Merchandising (including global teams) and Strategy & Innovation pyramids. He lives with his wife and three children, and in his free time, Sam loves to golf, mountain bike and snow ski out west.
Sam says that the three most interesting things about his career have been:
(1) the Constant learning – both the what and the how; (2) the Global nature of my work – chance to interact with various cultures; (3) I leverage my law degree everyday…just differently than I anticipated.
Vice President, Special Asset Group, Wells Fargo Bank, NA
Monday, September 11, 11–11:55am in Room 229
Thomas M. Korsman is currently a Vice President at Wells Fargo Bank, NA and works as a bond default workout specialist. At Wells Fargo, he managed the corporate bond default group until its merger into the Corporate Trust Service division of the bank. Mr. Korsman is an accomplished financial professional and attorney with over 35 years of financial and legal restructuring experience. Currently, Mr. Korsman serves as a director of the Washington Mutual Inc. Liquidating Trust. Some of the bankruptcies Mr. Korsman has worked on include Washington Mutual Bank, Enron, Bethlehem Steel, Mirant and the Stratosphere. Business sectors of the economy include oil and gas, casinos, racetracks, utilities, assisted living, churches, alternative energy, and office buildings. Mr. Korsman’s experience includes the practice of law, bank examining, creating and owning a consulting firm, sales, and the management of a division of 30+ people. He holds a B.A. in economics from St. Cloud State University (1977), a Juris Doctor from Hamline University School of Law (1981) and an M.B.A. from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota (2000).
Mr. Korsman says that the three most interesting things about his career are:
- “The opportunity to work in New York / Delaware restructuring/bankruptcy environment (unsecured creditors’ committees, financial advisors and attorneys)”
- “The ability to move from positon to position and from industry to industry including consulting, law, finance, sales and management”
- “Travel and working on issues in other countries and territories including workouts in Ireland, England, Italy and Puerto Rico”
“Most importantly,” Mr. Korsman says, is that “my career has given me the ability to, at least partially, understand the movie the Big Short.”
Health Care Compliance Attorney, DeWitt Mackall Crounse & Moore
Tuesday, September 12, 9–9:55am in Room 229
Mai Lee Yang focuses her practice on assisting with health care compliance and transaction matters. She advises on complex and overlapping federal and state laws, regulations, and sub-regulatory guidance. Mai Lee assists with not only providing legal advice, but supporting her clients through to implementation. Mai Lee has worked with insurance companies, providers, and durable medical equipment manufacturers on responding to issues as well as proactively structuring and monitoring their business practices.
Mai Lee obtained her B.A., summa cum laude, from the University of Minnesota, as well as her J.D., Health Law Certificate, and Health Care Compliance Certificate from Hamline University School of Law.
First Judicial District, Le Sueur County Courthouse
Thursday, September 14, 5–5:55pm in Room 229
Leaving his small hometown of DePere, WI, behind, Judge Mark Vandelist skipped his senior year of high school to attend St. Norbert College for one year before transferring to the American University in Washington, D.C., where he obtained a B.S. in Political Science and a B.A. in Sociology.
In his last year at AU, 1979/80, Judge Vandelist interned for then-Senator Ted Kennedy’s campaign for President, who was running against then-sitting president, Jimmy Carter in the Democratic primaries. Although he started as an intern, Judge Vandelist ended up traveling with the Senator throughout the country and running the national headquarters. While in Wisconsin after the primary, knowing at that point that Kennedy was a long shot for the nomination, Judge Vandelist took a day and came to visit Hamline University School of Law, about which he says,
“I fell in love with the small campus, the professors, and the location in the Twin Cities. I had never really been to the Twin Cities before, and found it to be the perfect fit.”
Judge Vandelist says that he wanted to be a lawyer for as long as he can remember,“It was always just what I was going to do, no question.” So when he started law school, he says,
“[I]t was a dream come true. However, I also learned it was a new way of thinking, and a lot of new terms I had never heard before. I came from a family of dairy owners, not lawyers, so I struggled my first year with the concepts and the language of the law.”
Judge Vandelist married his law school sweetheart on the weekend after their graduation from law school in May 1983. Although offered the opportunity to move back to DC to help with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Judge Vandelist chose to stay in MN after consulting with his new wife, whom he says “is and always will be a Minnesota girl.” Upon graduation, he became a Law Clerk for Alsop, a Federal District Court Judge for the US District of Minnesota. He was specifically hired to work on the Dalkon Shield mass tort litigation.
After clerking for Federal District Court Judge Donald Alsop for two years, Judge Vandelist became an insurance defense attorney defending personal injury claims for American Family Insurance. He says he always knew he wanted to be a trial lawyer, and “having ruled out criminal law, this was the next best thing.” He tried roughly 40 cases to a jury over the course of five years.
“I loved the courtroom. There is nothing in the world like the feeling of being totally prepared to go to battle, arriving at the courthouse that first day, having the clerk let you into a dark courtroom, turning on the lights, unloading your materials, and knowing you are prepared for anything that may come your way…. That moment, is the best. Then of course everything goes to hell in a hand basket and you have to think on your feet and trust your senses….”
Judge Vandelist then went to Cousineau McGuire Shawnessey and Anderson, an insurance defense firm, where he worked on larger product liability cases for another 2 years, until he joined Jim Hauer and formed a plaintiff’s personal injury firm, Hauer and Vandelist. He later joined forces with his wife, Lisa, and started Vandelist and Vandelist in the Lakeville Burnsville area, handling personal injury and workers’ compensation cases.
After surviving a series of tragic medical events, Judge Vandelist began to ponder his role in the world, and was suggested for the open judge position in Le Sueur County, about which he says, “[I]t finally dawned on me, what better job could I have wherein I could really make a difference in people’s lives, than being the only judge in a small rural Minnesota County?” He quickly applied and swiftly made it through the interview process, and he took office in January of 2014. He serves as the only judge in Le Sueur County.
Observing how many drug addicts were coming before him because of their criminal activity, Judge Vandelist quickly decided his first order of business would be to start a drug court to offer alternative options to jail and prison. After traveling around the state researching drug courts, he requested and received $100,000 from the County Board of Commissioners to start a drug court, and then received one of seven nationwide federal grants for $300,000 for 3 years. Judge Vandelist also envisioned developing a sober living environment, where people could go once they got out of in-patient treatment and were ready to start putting their lives together, instead of going back to the couch they were sleeping on prior to treatment. He worked with a family who had lost their son to a heroin overdose and started a sober living house in their old family home in Waseca, Alex’s House, and they purchased a nursing home in LeCenter, which as of mid-July 2018 has been open to serve the population of LeCenter. Of all the positive effects the establishment of the drug court has had, Judge Vandelist is most proud that the court has “had an effect on over 100 children, getting their mom or dad clean, and having them stay clean.”
About his career, Judge Vandelist says,
“[T]he bottom line is, I was put here to serve, whether that be by the Governor or by a higher power I don’t know. But it has become clear to me, and it took me awhile to believe this, but it is clear that I am here for the purpose of changing the world, one life at a time.”
Director of Human Resources, University of MN School of Dentistry
Friday, September 15, 11-11:55am in Room 229
Molly Gage, JD, SPHR (WMCL ‘05) is the Human Resources Director at the School of Dentistry, University of Minnesota. Over her twenty-year career in human resources and employment law, she has supported telecommunications, manufacturing, non-profit organizations and higher education organizations. Ms. Gage went to law school mid-career with the intention of applying her degree to a non-traditional path and has found her degree invaluable. She looks forward to sharing her varied experiences and answering students’ questions about a non-traditional career path.
Ms. Gage says that the three most interesting things about her career are:
- Human Resources skills are highly transferable, so I can experience many different industries and support a wide span of organizational missions.
- “I have learned that people might not like lawyers (insert lawyer joke here) but they love HR staff with legal degrees.”
- “If you are a life-long learner, there are many opportunities to grow and continue to learn as an employee and having a growth or learning mindset gives you an advantage in the workplace.”
Immigration/Criminal/Family Law Attorney; Owner of Contreras Edin & Associates, P.A.
Tuesday, September 19, 9–9:55am in Room 229
Gloria Contreras Edin is the founder and managing attorney of Contreras Edin & Associates, P.A.
Ms. Contreras Edin has advised on thousands of matters involving clients from more than 25 countries in North America, Central America, South America, Europe, Africa, & Asia on a wide range of complicated and sensitive immigration issues. She is a zealous advocate for her clients and is committed to helping families stay together in the United States.
Ms. Contreras Edin received her Juris Doctor from Hamline University School of Law in 2005, where she completed the Dispute Resolution Institute Certificate Program, and obtained her Bachelor’s degree from California State University.
Ms. Contreras Edin says that the three most interesting things about her career have been:
- Client Diversity: I have the privilege of working with immigrants and refugees on a daily basis. I am grateful for the opportunity to learn and share their stories in my legal representation.
- Defending Those in Need: I graduated law school with a passion to serve immigrants and refugees. I did my work with heart – a term that few people use in the law. I used my own experience as the daughter of immigrants to guide my journey. Despite challenges, I have been successful and remain please with my work.
- Inspiration through Others: Being the owner of a firm gives me the opportunity to choose with whom I work. I am inspired by the increased commitment to public service by law students and lawyers alike. Working with likeminded people makes the hard work far more rewarding.
Ms. Contreras Edin also says there were a number of things about her career that she did not anticipate during law school:
- Law School is Fun: Looking back, I forgot how much fun I had in law school. I regret complaining about the readings, the rigor, the research. I wish I would have paid more attention to the Federal Procedure Prof. I apply those rules every single day.
- Real-World Experience Matters: As an employer, I value new hires with real-world experiences (externships, clerkships, clinic experience). I regret not taking advantage of more opportunities like these when I was in school.
- No Excuses: There are no excuses once you are a lawyer. While in school, a fever or a bug may get you out of an exam. I’ve been in courtrooms with a fever and stomach flu, and once even ended up in the ER. As a lawyer, there is no excuse for failing to meet a deadline, or not being in court when the judge tells you to be there. The consequences are dire to your career and livelihood.